Delaware seeks $700,000 in penalties from owner of massage parlors

DOVER — A Dover massage parlor referenced in a lawsuit against its owner twice had a clogged sewer due to a large number of used condoms found in the line, a complaint filed by the Delaware Department of Justice alleges.

The lawsuit was filed Friday against Smyrna resident Da Zhong Wang, 52, who “owned and operated a series of massage parlors throughout the state of Delaware” including sites in Rehoboth Beach, Smyrna, Dover and Middletown named in the complaint.

In August 2015, Wang pleaded guilty to one count of permitting prostitution after an undercover operation at four locations led to three offers of sex acts by employees, the Department of Justice said.

Now, the department is seeking $700,000 in civil penalties regarding seven violations under the Racketeer Influenced and Corruption Organizations (RICO) statute. The state also seeks to ban Wang from ever owning, operating or having a business stake in a massage parlor in Delaware.

The Justice Department said it continues to investigate “whether Wang still owns or controls the facilities or any others in Delaware, and will seek to close down and seize assets from any properties he controls.”

Unclogging the pipes

In the complaint, the department said city of Dover Public Works employees discovered used condoms in April 2014 while unclogging a malfunctioning sewer drain used by Da Wang Bodyworks at 890 S. State St. in Dover.

In November 2014, the lawsuit claimed another sewer line clog at Da Wang’s Bodyworks led to the discovery of a large plastic bag with used condoms and other items.

During operations on Nov. 18, 2013, and Jan. 9, 2014, an undercover Delaware State Police trooper allegedly was solicited for an act of prostitution after receiving a massage at the Massage Center at 867 N. Broad St. in Middletown, the suit claimed. A prostitution charge against two employees was later dismissed, according to the lawsuit.

An employee who allegedly offered prostitution at the Relaxed Spa in Rehoboth Beach was found to live at the business, the lawsuit read. She pleaded guilty to prostitution in the Sussex County Court of Common Pleas on Dec. 11, 2014.

Evidence was found that two employees lived at Da Wang’s Body Works, which “included a functioning kitchen, a bedroom set up for an on-site living space, and a sofa with blanket and pillow which appeared to be used as a bed.”

In an interview with police, the Department of Justice alleged, Wang reported he had terminated two employees following prostitution arrests. Another woman who pleaded guilty to prostitution was described as a former employee by Wang, according to the lawsuit, though evidence indicated she still lived on the premises in Dover.

‘Enterprise by Wang’

The Department of Justice claimed the actions at the massage parlors were part of an “enterprise” headed by Wang.

“Each person employed by Mr. Wang in his various massage parlors locations, as well as Mr. Wang himself, engaged in a role within a group which was organized in an ongoing structure established by Mr. Wang and designed to further the activities and financial interests of the organization,” the lawsuit alleged.

“The organization possessed a framework for making and carrying out decisions; various associates within this organization functioned as a continuing unit; and the enterprise of massage parlors existed separate and apart from the discrete acts of prostitution in which individual members engaged to further the financial interests of Mr. Wang.”

Deputy Attorney General Oliver Cleary is representing the Department of Justice in the lawsuit.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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